54 Canadians caught in child sex tourism sting

54 Canadians caught in child sex tourism sting

Sting took place over two months, caught over 1000 people worldwide willing to pay to watch computer-generated 10-year-old girl perform sex acts on webcam.

  1. By Lisa Mayor
  2. Over 1000 people from 71 countries have been reported to Interpol after being caught in a sting operation targeting child webcam sex tourism.
    The predators included 54 Canadians. 
    The undercover operation was conducted by Terre des Hommes, an organization fighting child exploitation. Terre des Hommes was trying to demonstrate how widespread the problem of child webcam sex tourism is.
    The organization put together a computer-generated 10-year old girl Filipino girl named Sweetie, who was modelled to look and act like a real person.
    Sweetie was controlled, both actions and words, by Terre des Hommes investigators. Sweetie would enter chatrooms, where the organization said she was bombarded by messages from men wanting to see her on webcam. They said her visual was rarely used. 
  3. A spokesperson at Terre des Hommes told Humber News in an e-mail that the outcome of the sting was shocking.
    “Terre des Hommes was shocked by the amount of men who would contact Sweetie as soon as she presented herself in the chat rooms,” he said. “Sweetie did not have to do much, the men would give themselves and their intentions away in a minute. It would never come as far that Sweetie would perform sexual activities or that the adults would pay: before then, the researchers would fake a technical problem and break off the connection.”
    He said the sting took place over 10 weeks, from May to July. 
    Dr. Avner Levin is an associate professor and director at the Privacy and Cyber Crime Institute at Ryerson University.
    He told Humber News there are no global governing bodies for cyber crime, but police forces will work together internationally to catch people who are committing these kinds of offences. 

    “What they’re doing is using a mechanism that already exists, that’s basically like an office that sends out information to police services that subscribe to it,” Levin said. “Each country has it’s own laws in terms of what qualifies as a criminal offence, so there are laws that were created that make that distinction that they’re utilizing.”
    Levin said that this instance shows a case where the newly changed laws are coming into place.
    “Once upon a time you had to really exploit a child to commit an offence,” he said. “Now it’s viewing and storing and manipulating images. So there doesn’t have to be a real-life girl or boy to trigger the person looking at the images to make the offence.”
    He said when it comes to child pornography, law enforcement agencies and internet service providers are more likely to help each other out.
  4. Detective Paul Krawczyk from the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Police Service told Humber News that they have not yet received information on whether any of the 54 Canadians were from Toronto. 

    He said if they were, there are several charges they could face.

    “Judging by what I’ve heard, I imagine we’d have charges that
    are potentially luring a child under 16 years of age or invitation of sexual
    touching, but not knowing exactly what’s occurred it’s hard to tell,” Krawzyk said.


    Krawczyk said they deal with internet crimes and child pornography cases every day.

    “Everyday we’re dealing with people across
    the world, because the internet is borderless,” he said. “If a person here in Canada commits a crime
    somewhere else, it’s dealt with here. If there was an actual offence that
    occurred we’d require a full investigative report [from the country the child was from].”

  5. Terre des Hommes said child webcam sex tourism is a fairly new form of child sexual exploitation, and it is getting increasingly worse in the Philippines. 

    “Sweetie was created by technicians with whom we wanted to visualize the growing problem in the Philippines…[and] wanted her to look like the average Filipino girl, so they built her around the characteristics of numerous girls,” the Terre des Hommes spokesperson said. 

    He said that Sweetie was only present in English-speaking chat rooms, and said that if she was opened to other language chat rooms, the amount of predators would be much larger.

    “Basically, these adults come from all nationalities and all backgrounds. It ranges from highly educated to less educated, from wealthy to less wealthy, etc.”

  6. Terre des Hommes issued a detailed release, outlining the issues surrounding child webcam sex tourism.  The release covers everything from detailed demographics of children that are on child sex tourism webcams, to the demographics of those who are soliciting the children online and stories of children effected by child webcam sex tourism.

    The release also outlines stories of children who were tricked into working in an “internet store,” where they were paid to take off their clothes on webcam.
    It depicts alleged webcam sex dens where children are trafficked and held against their will to perform sex acts on webcam. 
    One of the stories in the release is about a family from the Municipality of Cordova. The story alleges that six children were forced by their parents to be naked in front of a webcam and perform lewd acts. The parents were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation, and six of their children were rescued. One of their daughters was allegedly four years old.
    The chart below, from the release, outlines the psychosocial issues children in sex industries face.
  7. 1 = Never experienced; 2 = Seldom experienced; 3 = Sometimes; 4 = Often experienced
  8. A petition has also been started to call on police to “crack down on webcam predators,” and already has nearly 30,000 signatures. Terre des Hommes is hoping to get 1,000,000 signatures on the petition.
  9. This documentary was released by Terres des Hommes, giving more detail and context to their investigation.
  10. Stop webcam child sex tourism!
  11. None of the perpetrators have yet been charged. 

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